How to Design a House and Make it Your Own

Add a personal touch to your living space.

Fortune Cookie Life Lesson #18

Keep in mind that home is where your heart is.

How important is it to make a house your own? A home should be where you feel happy and safe. A place where you can go away from all the worldly distractions and breathe. A person’s home has their memories of the life they have lived and loved. Here are ten ways to take any home and make it your own.

1. I love plants

I love plants but plants tend not to like me very well. I am not the best at being a green thumb and have had many failed attempts at keeping greenery in my home. Over the years I have come to realize I do best with plants that are low maintenance. I enjoy succulents especially as they are easy to care for and are very beautiful. Plants clean the air in the home and are aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. Putting a small herb garden in the kitchen will also help with cooking. If you are not too fond of plants putting up plant pictures can brighten up any mood.

2. Decorate in your style

Everyone has there own take on style and using yours will make a home feel more inviting to your senses if you incorporate it. If you are looking to add or replace things in the house, take a look at what you already own and decide if these things are what make you happy. Find the things you already love and work off those and discard the things that don’t connect. Take a mental picture of what you want this room to look like and work off that. It helps if you already have a few things in the space you love, and you can add more to it. Also incorporate the shapes, colors, and textures that make you happy. If you have a room that seems plain add a pop of color or add a different texture and by doing this you will give your space life.

4. Make Your Living Space Comfortable

Comfort is key when living in a house. I prefer my home to be comfortable especially after a long day. I like a place to relax and put up my feet and enjoy the remainder of my day in a peaceful setting that is warm and inviting. Add pillows to couches, chairs or beds. Pillows are always welcoming and who doesn’t love a beautiful soft pillow? Blankets are the bomb especially if you are coming home on a cold and blustery day. I am very picky when it comes to blankets and bedding and prefer softness to the touch. One of my favorite comforting blankets I own is a Berkshire Blanket. They are soft and keep you nice and toasty. You can wash them, and they stay the same just as you bought them. If you have hardwood floors, get an inviting rug that feels great on the feet, and place a lovely lamp on a side table for evening reading.

5. Clean Your Home

A clean home is a happy home. Keeping your home clean and organized will help you relax after a long day. Clutter is chaos and if you don’t get a handle on the clutter how can you have space to give you the peace you need. You don’t have to be a clean freak either to keep your home clean. Back in the day, I would slave all day to clean my house to perfection. I did chores that merely only had to be done once a week, and I found I caused more chaos for myself when that is all I would do is clean all day. I never gave myself a chance to enjoy life. Nowadays I don’t have enough hours in the day to be the cleaning freak I used to be and so I usually only spend 45 minutes to an hour doing the things I consider priorities and whatever doesn’t get done will then move to my preference the next day. It also helps to have a small cleaning crew which I have enlisted both of my children when it comes to laundry, dishes, and bedrooms.

6. Every Item Has its Place

Practicing this method can also help keep your home nice and tidy. Make sure that you don’t fill your house with too much stuff. My family has been guilty of this, and the last couple of years I have taken a minimalist turn in the way I live, and this is by far a way better option. I make sure every item in the house has a place to go, and if it does not, I will then decide if something needs to go so that I can find a place for this item. By making sure each possession has its spot not only does it keep the clutter out but I feel it will also help you from spending extra on the things you don’t need. An excellent example of this is clothing. I will only buy new clothing when I need to replace an item. If my jeans have holes or my top is too worn to wear I will replace it and not discard the object that is no longer needed.

7. If Your Space is Bare Spruce it up

I usually have trouble with making sure my walls are not too bare. If I come across a wall or space that is bare I typically add a cool looking print or maybe add a nice shelf and fill it full of your favorite trinkets or books. It doesn’t take much to make a spot more appealing a little can go a long way.

8. Flowers are a Nice Addition

Not only do flowers make a house smell great they are gorgeous to look at and will boost any mood when walking in the door. My kitchen is pretty dull, and when I need to add some flair to it, I do it with flowers. I love orchids, and nowadays you can find them in exciting bright colors that can catch any eye. Not only are flowers an excellent piece for most any space they are pleasing to smell and can brighten our day.

9. Find an Empty Wall and Decorate It

I did this with our wall that goes to our downstairs, and I will say it is my most favorite spot. I didn’t like the space that it left and decided that I would decorate the wall with pictures in a variety of frames and also some of the artwork that my kids have done. It is by far my favorite decorating spot. Walls are blank canvases, and you can decorate them any way you want. You can also use anything to decorate a wall. Prints, shelves and even plants can be used to put some decoration on your wall. Make your walls your own.

10. All Else Fails Change Your Sheets

I do this quite frequently, and I would say I change my bedding in my house more than anything else to add something new. When my covers start to look drab, and I want to spruce up the bedroom I go new sheets. You can change the color, texture and it does make a difference. I also will add different pillows and maybe a different throw to give it a total bed makes over and who doesn’t love new bedding that is probably my most favorite thing in the world.

When trying to make a home your own remember this place will be a piece of you.  Adding plants and flowers will give you not only a wonderful aroma but adding them can help elevate how you are feeling that day.  Make the space you live about you and what you like and discard the things that you are not so fond of, and of course, try to build a home of comfort that gives you an escape from the rest of the world.  Keeping a clean and clutter free house will reduce stress levels and help keep things organized.  Decorate your walls with pictures or colorful items to add pop to a spot that has been ignored and make sure that your bed make you happy and if it doesn’t change it.  Doing small changes and adding things here and there will take an ordinary home into your extraordinary space.

6 Secrets to Bonding with Your Rabbit

Fortune Cookie Life Lesson #15

A true friend is someone who is there for you when he’d rather be anywhere else.

With Easter right around the corner, I decided to write about my daughter Emma and her adorable Lionhead Dwarf Bunny Elsa. Why on earth would I pick such an unlikely pair to talk about friendship? Elsa helped my daughter bring back the sunshine in her life around the age of 9. My daughter struggled in her 3rd grade year due to an enormous amount of bullying. As you know, my children are both homeschooled, and this was the reason for my choice. Emma was tormented non stop by a group of 4 girls, and I could not do anything about it. No one helped, and therefore we decided it was best we cut ties with our public school.

After Emma was bullied, she was more withdrawn and had a tough time socializing with other kids. My husband and I decided that we should get her a pet. We thought that the responsibility would give her purpose and the unconditional love would heal her heart. We could not have a cat or dog at the time because we did not own our home, so we had to think about a small caged animal. We had some friends with an adorable bunny and decided to inquire about how to get one.

That was one of the best decisions we ever made not only for our daughter but also for our whole family. Elsa arrived at our home at 16 weeks old, and immediately Emma fell in love. Every day after school she would hold Elsa and play with her. Even on her lunch break she would take Elsa outside and read her stories. Elsa needed Emma to give her a loving home and Emma needed Elsa to love her unconditionally with no judgments. These to unlikely friends built one of the most active friendships I have ever seen. Elsa is now four years old and is a big part of our family. Elsa and Emma could not be any closer than they are today and for that, I am incredibly grateful.

One of the biggest things that I came to realize is that our furry friends no matter what they are can bring many joys to our lives. Emma bonded with Elsa instantly and she never strayed. She helped Elsa grow into a loving and trusting rabbit because of the bonding that Emma provided for Elsa. If you have a rabbit or are thinking about getting one here are six things to consider to help build that fuzzy bond.

1. Rabbits Communicate Through Sound

Rabbits can tell you a lot about themselves through the sounds they make. They will listen to the sounds around them to make sure that they are safe and don’t have to take action. A rabbit will click its teeth together to show that it is comfortable and happy. They also make purring sounds like a cat to show it feels safe and trust the environment around them.

If a rabbit starts to snort it is letting you know it would like attention. Snorting can also mean the rabbit could be suffering from a respiratory infection. If there is more snorting than average have a veterinarian take a look to make sure they are not sick.

When a rabbit whimpers or screams that indicates there is fear or pain, and this should be evaluated. Most of the time if you are not holding the rabbit securely or they do not feel that they are safe in their environment this will happen. They may also grunt and if that is the case they more than likely do not want you to handle them.

Rabbits will also grind teeth, that is a sign of pain, illness, or anxiety. Holding a rabbit incorrectly can cause discomfort for the rabbit. Also if there is sudden grinding that occurs, you should have your rabbit looked at by a veterinarian.

2. Rabbits also Communicate Through Body Language

A rabbits body language is essential in properly communicating with your rabbit. A rabbit’s ears are an indispensable way to let you know how they are feeling. If the rabbit’s ears lie back, they are feeling the safest. Elsa loves to go outside, and we have quite a bunny sanctuary for her. She loves to lay out in the fresh air with her ears entirely down. By looking at her, I can tell this rabbit is the most relaxed in this state. When her ears are straightforward, and she is staring at something that is when she is alarmed and that there is something that could be harmful to her. It helps us understand her and we are then aware and can help her if she thinks there is a danger. Most of the time she is outside relaxing laid flat and enjoying her outside play time. That’s when we know she is happiest.

3. Bunny Behaviors

Rabbits love to be close. I would have never guessed this as this was the first time we ever owned one, but Elsa is the most content when she is glued to her bunny mama. They love human touch, and they will be more gentle with the human interaction. When a rabbit nudges someone that is a sign of attention. If Emma is outside and not hanging out with Elsa, this rabbit will immediately run over and nudge her for some love. Rabbits lick, and that is a sign of great admiration. That is the best respect from a rabbit and shows that they love and trust you. They also will flop down beside you when they feel the safest and most content. If a rabbit exposes their inner eyelid that is a sign of anxiety and you may need just to keep building trust in your relationship.

4. A Bunny Home is a Happy Home

Rabbits need to have a safe space to live. Their living should be quiet and comfortable to build the best friendship. Make sure that the rabbit will receive daily interaction and that any chaos that might upset them is limited. Temperature is key to having a happy, healthy bunny. A comfortable temperature for a rabbit is 60-70 degrees. Too hot or too cold can lead to severe problems and death. Make sure that they have adequate shade on those warmer days so that they do not overheat.

5. Playtime is the Best

Rabbits love to play. Elsa has lots of toys, and she loves to frolick. Her favorite toy is a big purple bounce ball that she pushes around with her nose. She gets excellent exercise, and we like to watch her play. Rabbits love to play with balls, cardboard, and toilet paper rolls filled with hay. Rabbits need their activity the more room, the better. Make sure that no electrical chords are lying around. Rabbits seem to attract to these, and that could be bad for you as well as bad for the bunny. If the rabbit is outdoors make sure they have a fenced enclosed area so they will not be able to escape. They can be inquisitive creatures, and that can lead to problems. Make sure to supervise the rabbit and keep them safe.

6. Healthy Diet Healthy Bunny

Make sure that your rabbit gets a healthy diet. The diet should consist of Timothy grass or hay, pellet food, fresh leafy greens, and clean water. Rabbits also like apples and carrots. The amount you feed them will depend on how big the rabbit is. Rabbits six months and over need 1/8 and 1/4 cup of pellets per five pounds of body weight. They also need 2 cups leafy greens per six pounds.

Rabbits are fun furry friends that bring joy to all that come along their way. They require lots of care and lots of love so the dedication to building that relationship should be a priority. If you are considering getting a rabbit make sure to research and learn about the care and the needs of the rabbit so that you are prepared. Many times people don’t understand what these pets need and the necessary amount of love and attention that goes into caring for a rabbit. Also, if you are wondering where to get a rabbit take a look at your local animal rescue, there will be many rabbits that need a loving home. Some of these rescues are dedicated to rabbits. Many people realize later on they are unable to care for a rabbit and will end up giving the rabbit away. Many rabbits need loving homes and adoption is a great way to become bunny parents.

How to Get Out of Debt and Crush Those Money Goals

Fortune Cookie Life Lesson #14

Whatever you want to do, do it. There are only so many tomorrows.

One of the things I want to do is get out of debt. This fortune phrase hit it right on the head and I want out of debt now. Something I struggled with most of my life was my finances. I was never very good at keeping a budget and didn’t quite learn the skills to get me through adulthood. In 2008 my husband and I took a substantial financial hit, and everything came crashing down to an unforgettable end. Unforgettable because this was the time in our lives when we hit financial rock bottom and had to make a change not only for ourselves but make a difference for our kids.
We needed to wake up, and we needed to get our act together, and that is precisely what we did. It was hard, and it felt like it took forever. We kept going even when there were downfalls and unexpected events that would put us behind. With all our effort and teamwork we managed to pull ourselves out of the dark abyss of the debt black hole. It wasn’t easy, but with a little patience and a lot of determination, debt can become a not so fond memory of the past. Here are five ways to get out of debt and get out fast.

1. Goals, Goals, and More Goals
Plan some goals and stick to them. Goals help direct you and keep you focused on the essential things you want to change. Sometimes goals can be very overwhelming especially if you have an enormous amount of debt and you don’t know where to start. If this is the case, start broad and work your way to small. I know it sounds funny but taking a look at the whole picture and breaking it down will make you take a look and see how easy it can be as long as you stick to it.

Long range goals will be goals that you will have years down the road. These goals are the bigger picture. My husband and I have a significant goal to be able to travel and do some van living once we are completely debt free. We have planned to complete this task in the next five years and are working on getting to that point. When designing large goals ask yourself what is it that you want out of life? How long will it take for me to get to that point? Answering these types of questions will help you to understand what it is you want and give you an idea on how to get there.

Next, you should work on planning some medium range goals. These goals can be completed in a couple of years. These goals will help you to attain the big picture, and they can include, paying off certain debt like student loans, or cars. They can also be adding a side hustle to make a little extra income. Medium goals can be made on a yearly basis. Keeping a log can help you attain the common goals. Make sure to be as specific as possible and use positive words when writing them out as this will keep you motivated. Our common goal is mostly based on our side business and keeping it running smoothly and successfully. Our side business requires both of us to put in the time and effort. We also have a monthly budget that we follow that keeps us in check.

Last but not least is making small goals that can quickly be followed on a weekly basis. These weekly goals help you focus on the things you would like to accomplish in 6 months to a year. Our short-term goals are to get vehicles paid off which we have been able to do except for one and pay off any student loan or credit card debt, and we are continually working on this as well. We have managed to take out a pretty big chunk in both the last six months. Like I said we just keep going once one goal is made then we tackle the next. One of the things I like to do to keep me up on my weekly goals and this could be done monthly as well by using a dry erase board, and I write three categories. These categories are Want to Do, Doing, and Done and I will start my week with my task all under the want to do, and when I need to, I move the work to the next category until they are finished. I am a pretty busy lady, and sometimes all the things I think about will almost make my head explode so if I write them down and see them it keeps me organized and creates a less stressful environment.

2. Downsize Me
When we hit our financial crisis, one thing we had to do whether we liked it or not was downsize. We went from a four bedroom home with full basement, garage, and backyard to a three bedroom apartment, and yes it was interesting. We have two kiddos, and they were pretty young at the time, so they had to share a room because I had a side Ebay business that needed an office. We downsized and lived tiny for a while to get ourselves back on our feet. I will tell you my kids looked back on it and didn’t mind it at all. It brought them closer, and they had to learn to get along more. I consider this a blessing being able to do this and learning to minimalize. I became a minimalist because of the very reason of downsizing. It is incredible to realize the amount of stuff you don’t need.

3. Want a Ride
One thing that has helped us out is lowering our monthly gas expense. We live in Fort Collins, Colorado and we have to drive to Denver once a week for our side job, Which is an hour away sometimes a little longer so we have to be careful how much driving we do throughout the week. My husband’s full-time job is six blocks from our house so most of the time he uses a bike not only is it fun for him, but it keeps him in shape. I try to make weekly grocery trips and keep our going back and forth to a bare minimum. When we first needed to get back on our feet, we decided to buy a car from an auction site instead of buying or leasing something newer to save on monthly payments. It also lowered our insurance since the car was older the coverage was less expensive. There are lots of ways to downsize the amount of gas you pay each month, and this can make a big difference on what you will pay at the pump.

4. What’s For Dinner
I get asked this question every single day and more than once by more than one person. I am the meal planner and in most circumstances meal prepper. Back when we thought money grew on trees, we ate out all the time. Now I look back at it and think “Oh my gosh I wasted so much money and half the time what I ate was awful.” We do not eat out if we can help it. Not eating out can save you tons of money and not only that your waistline will thank you as well.
I am a planner, and therefore my meals are planned, and I prepare my shopping by matching coupons, sales ads, and discounts where I can find them. If you are healthy eater that is fantastic because so am I and I will tell you yes you can eat healthy on a dime and I do it all the time. I plan my grocery bill around what is on sale and where my discounts will be found. There are many nutritious foods you can eat that won’t break the bank. I also have an Instant Pot and let me just say this thing is sent from heaven above and is my go-to for most of my meals. I make soups, sauces, beans, rice, vegetables, even meat in this thing and it rocks! Not only does it help me make affordable yummy meals it is so easy to operate just set it up and let it cook.

5. Every Girl Loves Her Shopping and So Does This One
I love to shop and back in the day when I had no clue how to save a dime I did just that I went shopping. I look back now and realize that most of the time I was wasting time and precious savings. I am so thankful that I came to my senses and figured out I can still shop but just have to be more mindful in my shopping. I even have better things now than I did when I was spending money like it was water. How is that possible you ask, I am very keen on season sales and watch many of my online clearance sites. One of my favorite sites is Steep and Cheap. I am an outdoor girl, and this place has tons of outdoor clothing and accessories for huge discounts. Steep and Cheap is by far my favorite place to shop, and you can find some things as much as 90% off. I have paid that much off, and it makes me very happy when I do. To shop with them you need to get on the email list, and it is straightforward so it is easy to join. I also learned that I should only buy for the things I need and not to waste on things I want. So I wear out my jeans and keep shoes around forever. I keep the stuff I have in good shape. I am more aware of how to care for these things, so they do not need to be replaced.

Knowing your goals and planning them out will keep you focused on what you want out of your life. Making changes and downsizing things that you may not necessarily need can give you more to work with when paying off debtors. Carpool, biking, walking, or just being more aware of your driving can save you at the gas pump. Quit the takeouts and fast food and choose a more healthy and less expensive alternative. When you shop remember to ask yourself is this a want or is this a need and if it is a need try to get it at the lowest best price around.

Even though trying to control the debt monster can seem at times impossible know that with patience, dedication, and focus you can control your future. There are only so many tomorrows so instead of waiting jump in today and make those changes to give you the life you want.

Beauty Inspiration

What does beautiful mean to you?

Fortune Cookie Life Lesson #8
There is no reference for beauty.

What does it mean to be beautiful? When I first picked this piece of paper out of my jar, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to write about this. My first thought was when I read this was the phrase “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” because many things can be beautiful. It is not just about physical appearance, and many things around us can be considered attractive. There is also more to beauty than just what you see on the outside sometimes inner beauty can outshine what we see on the surface.
Growing up I always considered beauty to be nothing but a physical attribute. I did not find myself a beauty growing up. I was a small red-haired freckle-faced awkward child who shied away from most of the world. Many kids gave me tons of havoc for those physical attributes, so I considered those things a negative trait that I was cursed with. Thinking this, of course, was far from the truth. No one around me ever said I was beautiful so I grew up thinking there wasn’t much to me. With this thought process came lots of uphill battles and it took me a very long time to know and understood what real beauty meant. As I have come along in my life, I have genuinely found a meaning to what I feel beauty is, and I embrace these things every day.
1. Beauty is where I live.
I love where I live. I live in Fort Collins Colorado and this by far is one of the most beautiful places I have ever lived. I love being close to the mountains and being able to take in what is around me. I like to be able to hike a trail to the top and take in the fresh mountain air and the freedom of the wide open spaces. To be able to get to the top and sit and experience a quiet that gives me the most peace and calm.
Take a look around you and recognize the beauty that surrounds you. Everyone’s vision of beauty is different and to be able to stop for a moment and look at the place in which you live and recognize all the things that are around you that make you who you are and take a moment to appreciate these places.
2. Relationships with special people are beautiful.
I adore my relationship with my husband. He is my rock, my support, and best friend. If it were not for him to show me real beauty, I would not be where I am today. Being able to share life with those that are close to you is a beautiful thing. With those we love we get to experience some of the best parts of being.
I feel one of the ways to find beauty in a relationship is to look past the faults of our relationships. Nothing is perfect, and it takes lots of work to make it happen, but once we get past the thinking that everything should be perfect and finding fault we then get to appreciate the ones around us.
When a seed is planted, it needs care and time to grow. Once the seed has sprouted, it then turns into a beautiful flower. We can’t expect our relationships to be beautiful overnight. Just like flowers our relationships need nurturing to grow and become what we have always wanted.
3. My kids are beautiful.
I don’t want to brag, but I do believe I have some beautiful kids. Not just because they are cute but because they are beautiful human beings. I love to watch them grow and learn. Being able to teach them and help them along their path I feel has been my most significant purpose in life.
I want my kids to have a good life. I want them to be able to learn the things that I did not have the chance to learn right away. I want them to know that they are beautiful outside as well as inside and to take those traits with them in their lives. I want them to appreciate the world around them and find beauty in all things. For them to help make this world a more beautiful place would be something I would always hold in my heart.

4. I am beautiful.
A few years ago these words would never venture out of my mouth, and this was something that was hard for me to say, but I didn’t fully understand what that statement meant. One thing that I have learned through all my trials and tribulations is that you can not love others unless you like yourself. Learning to love myself was one of the biggest lessons that I have ever had to learn. I realized a few years ago that I was not doing what I needed to do as a wife, mother, and individual all because I lacked love for myself. I decided to dig deep and reevaluate my life, my upbringing and teach myself that I am worth it. I have worked very hard to get to this point, but I can honestly say that I do love who I have become. I love myself enough to be happy even with my flaws and be able to be the mom and wife that I need to be.
I love myself enough to take care of myself and work hard every day to let that freckled- face red- haired girl know she is beautiful and worth every minute of the day.
There is no reference to beauty. Beauty is not something that can be labeled. We are all different, and all of us have different qualities that add to the beauty of the world. Go out today and find the beauty that surrounds you. Not only is beauty around you but take a look at yourself and know that you are beautiful. There will be days when you will struggle but understand that the days that bring you down the most are the days that bring you strength. Make your beauty your inspiration.

5 Ways to Stop a Negative Conversation Before it Begins

Fortune Cookie Life Lesson #2

Keep your goals away from the trolls.

Do you ever find yourself dealing with people who aren’t happy unless they or you are miserable?  You may have an idea that you may want to try and the person you are talking to shuts it down.  Maybe you received a promotion or accomplished a personal goal and you share it and they act like it’s no big deal. Everyone has had these conversations in their life and we may or may have not dealt with these circumstances the best way. If we are lucky we can put an end to these situations before they even begin with these 5 steps.

Know what your hot buttons are so that you don’t end up falling into the trap. 

Many times these situations are placed before us to get a reaction.  If you are dealing with someone who says or does something the best way to handle the conversation is to not react negatively.  if someone is trying to hit your hot button keep in mind that you have control of what you say and do and even though you don’t like what is being said you not letting the other person win.

 

Change the subject to neutral.

Changing the subject in a not so positive conversation takes the light off the resentment and puts it in a different light.  You could even ask how the other person is doing and what they have been up to.  More than likely they will love the idea of filling you in on themselves.

 

“Thanks for your input I will consider it.”

Rather than getting into an argument over what is being said and done end the conversation by thanking them for their input and that you will consider all the options.  Being polite when things aren’t always the most friendly makes it hard for the other person to continue the toxic conversation.  You are ahead if you keep it under control.

 

There may be times you can avoid it altogether.

If you’re at a party or a social situation simply avoiding the one who wants to start trouble will be a way to keep things under control.  You don’t have to talk or visit with someone who wants to send shade your way.  A simple hello or wave is just fine and keeping yourself busy will keep the contact to a minimum.

 

Be confident.

You know who you are and the more confidence you have around those that might think less of you the better your outcome will be.  You don’t have to think you are holier than thou but have confidence in your decisions and actions.  Many times this intimidates the person who wants to shut you down.

There are times in life where we have to deal with those people who don’t have our best interest at heart.  It is easier to handle these situations when we are able to keep control of what is being said and done during the interaction.  When you know how to deal with the trolls these social situations get a whole lot easier.